January 31, 2013

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Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

By: Matt Bowen

Super Bowl XLVII is now just days away, which leaves fans to ponder how many pounds of nachos they’ll serve up to their friends and what exactly will transpire in the big game in the Big Easy.

Making predictions is half the fun when it comes to the Super Bowl. NFL fans know that most of the iconic Super Bowl moments have come unexpectedly, and there will no doubt be a few of those this year.

Let’s get to it:

Jacoby Jones Will Take the Opening Kickoff Back for a Touchdown

The Baltimore Ravens acquired Jacoby Jones in the offseason primarily to be an instant threat in the return game. Jones hasn’t disappointed this season as he returned two kicks and a punt for touchdowns.

He’s also a viable weapon as a No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Terrey Smith. Just ask the Denver Broncos if Jones is a difference maker. They seemingly forgot about him in their Divisional Round playoff matchup as he marched into the end zone after a bomb from quarterback Joe Flacco that sent the game to overtime.

Here’s the kicker—Jones is a native of New Orleans, and he’ll be more than ready to steal the show. With his blood flowing early, he’ll start the game off with a bang.

Alex Smith Will Make an Appearance

The San Francisco 49ers made a bold move this season when they benched then starting quarterback Alex Smith for second-year man Colin Kaepernick.

Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft was finally beginning to look like a No. 1 pick. He was coming off arguably the best game of his career, going 18-for-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.

Just when it was looking like Smith had solidified himself, a concussion knocked him out of Week 10 against the St. Louis Rams and inevitably changed the course of his career.

In came Kaepernick, who undoubtedly optimized the Niners offense and propelled them to the Super Bowl.

So, this is the end of Smith, right?

Wrong!

He’ll make an appearance in the Super Bowl and even throw an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh knows he has to pack a bag full of tricks if he’s to beat a veteran Ravens defense. Smith will be one of those tricks, and he’ll make the most of it. On the first possession of the second half, Smith will make his mark.
Justin Tucker Will Kick the Longest Field Goal in Super Bowl History

The Baltimore Ravens made some noise this preseason when they tapped rookie Justin Tucker from the University of Texas to be their place kicker this season.

Tucker proved he’s the man for the job, going 30-for-33 on the season and even notching four field goals longer than 50 yards.

The Super Bowl record for longest field goal is a 54-yarder from Steve Christie of the Buffalo Bills against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Tucker will top that by booting a 56-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the third quarter. He’ll show the world just why the Ravens made a great choice when they chose him.

Randy Moss Will Walk the Walk

In case you haven’t heard, Randy Moss has named himself the “Greatest of All Time” during media day at the Super Bowl this season.

Considering he’s a member of the San Francisco 49ers, that’s a bold statement.

Although his career numbers don’t compare to Hall of Fame 49er Jerry Rice’s, Moss will make a big impact in the Super Bowl. Love him or hate him, he’s really good.

It’s long been known that Moss shows up when he wants to, and, considering it’s the Super Bowl, he’ll be open for business.

The Ravens will have their hands full trying to keep track of receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Moss will slip by the secondary for an early second quarter touchdown. Don’t be surprised when he is booed after reaching the end zone.

In the end, he’ll have four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Joe Flacco Will Stamp Himself as Elite

Why there’s still a debate to whether Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is elite or not beats me.  All the guy does is win.  Sure, it may not always be pretty, but a win is a win.

Flacco will be a free agent in the offseason, but don’t expect him to leave Baltimore—he’s there to stay.  Taking Super Bowl MVP honors will certainly boost his pocketbook during bargaining.

He may not be the flashiest quarterback, but he’ll have a Super Bowl ring to show off.

In his MVP performance he’ll go 22-for-30 with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning drive that will end in a Ray Rice 12-yard screen pass touchdown.

Final Score: Ravens 24, 49ers 20

February 13, 2012

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Ricky Williams Retires – What Could Have Been

By: Anson Whaley

When then New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his entire slate of draft picks in 1999 to move up to acquire Ricky Williams, he was highly criticized. Williams had come off of an amazing career with the Texas Longhorns, but gambling an entire draft on a single player was a monumental risk – so risky that it had never been done before in the history of the league. Ditka put all of his eggs into one basket and it’s safe to say that while Williams rushed for more than 3,000 yards in three seasons in New Orleans, he provided a relatively small return for an entire draft’s worth of selections. The Saints ended up trading Williams away in 2002 to the Miami Dolphins for (drum roll) … more draft picks.

The bizarre thing is that even after a fairly long NFL career, it’s difficult to gauge just how good he was. His 10,009 career yards rank 26th all-time, yet he had only five career 1,000-yard seasons.  10,000 yards is an amazing accomplishment and made Williams a great rusher, but he will be remembered by most as someone who could have done even more.

In 2000, his second NFL season, Williams missed six games due to injury, but still finished with 1,000 yards. Then after racking up nearly 4,500 rushing yards over the next three years, Williams abruptly retired in 2004. He returned in 2005, but shared time with a young Ronnie Brown, and in 2006, he was suspended for the entire season for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Williams returned again in 2007, but playing in his first game, he was injured and missed the remainder of the season. Williams played in 2008 – 2010 without missing a game, but he again spilt time with the younger Brown. Last season, he served as a backup with the Baltimore Ravens behind star Ray Rice.

The Dolphins drafted Ronnie Brown to add stability and the "wildcat" to their running game.

When you add it all up, Williams missed about 3 ½ years of playing time. He averaged nearly 1,200 yards per season from 1999 – 2005, so factoring in that rate of production, Williams lost approximately 4,000 yards in all. When you add those yards to his career, a good picture is painted as to just how good he could have been.

With 14,000 career yards, he vaults all the way into fifth place on the all-time rushing list behind only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin. Just as important, if Williams had been a steady force in the backfield, the Dolphins probably don’t draft Ronnie Brown. Instead of sharing the rushing duties in much of his career in Miami, Williams could have had the bulk of the carries to himself and accumulated even more yards as a feature back.

Now, while all this projecting is fun, the important thing to remember is that it certainly is no guarantee of what Williams would have accomplished. Even if he had been able to stay on the field, there’s still no telling how things would have played out.

The bottom line is that we’ll never know if Williams might have challenged Emmitt Smith’s NFL record of 18,355 yards. But if things had turned out a little better, he may have given it a shot – and Mike Ditka would have had the last laugh.

April 7, 2011

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A Bunch of Unrelated Questions Answered by Jamaal Charles

By: Lionel

Jamaal Charles has seen a lot.  A standout running back, he was part of the 2005 national championship team with the University of Texas, where he currently ranks fourth in career rushing yards, despite forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL draft.  Now three years into his professional career with the Kansas City Chiefs, he has become one of the best rushers in the NFL.

We figured that a guy who’s seen so much would have a lot of information to share, so we worked for weeks – brainstorming, researching, and surveying fans – to come up with the most interesting interview questions possible for Mr. Charles.  Unfortunately, we left those questions in the bar at the airport, so we hastily assembled a bunch of unrelated questions just to make sure we had something to ask him when we saw him.  Here are his answers to that second batch of questions:

1.       How did your NCAA bracket work out?  Good.  Had UConn winning it all.

2.       Name 3 things you’ll do more of if there isn’t an NFL season.  Lift weights, run track, more community involvement.

3.       If there was a movie about your life, who would be the star?  Me.

4.       Better barbecue: Texas or Kansas City?  Texas.

5.       Who, in your opinion, is the most intimidating defensive player in the NFLNo one.

6.       What are you surprisingly bad at?  Singing.

7.       If there’s no NFL season, and you can let your self go a little, what will you eat a lot of?  Nuts.  All kinds of nuts.

8.       What’s on your DVR right now?  I don’t have one.

9.       What movie do you like that you don’t normally admit to people?  Avatar.

10.   If you were going to put up anyone else’s Fathead in your house, whose would it be?  Adrian Peterson’s.